After a decade of strong growth during which it launched a slew of successful online services, Google is now going back to its start-up roots. In pursuit of that goal, co-founder Larry Page will take over as Chief Executive Officer from Eric Schmidt. The primary task before Google is crisply summarised by Mr. Page: to be a big company with the nimbleness, soul, passion, and speed of a start-up. That is a clearly articulated vision and it can attract many young engineers to the search engine giant in its quest for new strategies for development. Financially, the company has been achieving robust revenues and profits. In the quarter ended December 31, it made a net profit of $2.54 billion, up from $1.97 billion for the same quarter a year ago. Its revenues stood at $8.44 billion, representing a 17 per cent year-on-year increase. The company has a market value of $200 billion. With such a financial base to work on, Mr. Page will take charge of day-to-day operations and lead product development and technology strategy, while Mr. Schmidt, as Executive Chairman, will focus on business partnerships, government outreach, and technology thought leadership.

The ‘triumvirate' leadership model, comprising Mr. Page, co-founder Sergey Brin, and Mr. Schmidt, has helped Google produce several innovative web-based services and develop online advertising. By agreeing to clarify their roles, the top management has paved the way for clearer responsibilities and greater accountability, as Mr. Schmidt says on the company blog. A creative combination of its technology and business visions will be vital to its future, as the mobile web grows in importance. A good beginning has been made with the launch of the highly successful Android operating system for mobile devices. By offering an open collaborative model for development, it has attracted many mobile handset makers and its market share is increasing. Moreover, Google has come up with a version of the Android operating system optimised for use in tablet computers. Taken together, tablets and ‘smart' mobile phones are key to an expanded online search market. An informed forecast puts tablet sales for 2011 over 44 million units. To place this in context, tablet sales stood at 4.8 million units in the third quarter of 2010, with Apple's iPad accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the shipments. This trend is a clear indicator of the potential for growth in search-linked advertising, which is Google's forte. ‘Smart' television is another area of upcoming competition, where the web is a searchable channel on the bigger screen. With the attributes of an agile start-up, Google can kick-start a fresh round of innovation in all these areas.

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